Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Trip to Marukai

As with any major metro, the LA Basin is just teeming with food adventure. We have a slew of food trucks constantly tweeting out the nearest location where we can pick up a plate of Bulgogi beef tacos. We have highly rated eateries where we can "experience" dining and there are also those local breakfast joints that'll serve up a powdery, sugared German Dutch Baby on the fly, any old Saturday morning.  On just about every street corner we can find some little jewel box restaurant where our favorite Thai curry or Cuban beans and rice are just minutes from our fork. It's something I marvel at, something I appreciate so much about where I live. You do realize that we aren't that far away from a time where an exotic dinner consisted of that new craze called "the enchilada"...

But sometimes I just want to eat in and realize a trip to the regular grocery store just isn't going to cut it.  I want to fill up my shopping cart with stuff I've never seen or heard of before and do a little taste testing. Other times, I'm looking for a very special ingredient that my local grocer would never regularly stock. You see, those local eateries are pushing the envelope and even from my own kitchen, I'm now seeking a little adventure.  Color me spoiled.

Lucky for us we also have specialty food stores like Marukai that allow us to take a little walk on the wild side and get out of our homemade food rut. There are several of these Japanese-centric markets in the area that feature everything from Shiseido cosmetic counters, to housewares, freshly baked bread and freshly caught fish just flown in from the Andaman and Sea of Japan.  We had a hankering for fresh poke recently, the kind we had in Hawaii several months back, the kind that wouldn't be satisfied until we made a bowlful that we could pick leisurely on throughout the whole of a Sunday afternoon. Marukai came to the rescue. Of course, along the way, I found a few other goodies to fill the basket and it occurred to me that I shouldn't hoard this fantastic little resource, but share it with you all.

Let's start with the ceramics.

Now, let's dish on the fun food found here.

I snapped a peek at our cart as we walked up to the check out counter so you can see what made the cut on this trip.

Marukai is technically a "membership" store. But you can pay a $1 fee and snake a day pass. I warn you. I wouldn't go hungry- or maybe you should. The place smelled like a fancy dinner house the other day and the samples they were handing out would give even Costco a run for their money.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I love nothing more than a good project. An easy project with instant gratification is even better. Recall, I had mentioned last week that I scored during my recent shopping jaunt to The Springs.

We started the day out in Palm Springs, made our way to Cathedral City, then Palm Desert and on the way home, took a detour out to Desert Hot Springs. We wandered up and down those desert highways and byways, looking for just the right little token to take back home to Holtwood House. Our eyes were peeled, looking for pottery or some type of vintage abstract to hang on one of the (still barren) walls. But the first five hours or so were a complete bust. 

This is the norm with me. I adore trolling flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales, but it's few and far between where I feel I've found "the thing", you know? Some people have that gift or luck or whatever it is. Though usually it's fruitless, it's the adventure that keeps me venturing. But I digress...

I was feeling a bit defeated when like a mirage in the desert, we approached a little storefront called Gypsyland, seemingly overflowing out onto the sidewalk with mid-century goodness. I audibly squealed with excitement, cracking the door before the car ever stopped moving.  It was there sitting out on that gritty sidewalk out front that I saw it. 

I've been tagging a lot of images featuring sheepskin covered footstools. Sheepskin (or Alpaca) is seemingly everywhere these days. I heard Sam's Club was even stocking them (which honestly sort of gives me a little pause... have they jumped the shark?). I've had one slung over my office chair for several weeks, but I've been dying to use it to re-upholster some little "project".  Something that would allow me to have one of these to stare at and fluff with my fingers:

I had envisioned a brass or acrylic base topped with that thick blonde fur and was getting ready to settle on something slightly more rustic should I come upon something suitable enough. But there it was. Just needed a little polishing and some new skin.

This little Baughman-esque beauty is mine, mine, mine!!!  
The Mister... he didn't "get" it. He thinks brass is so 80's- in a bad way.
You can't tell, but the old upholstery was grody... I mean like totally.

First I disassembled it so I could polish up the base. Good thing I checked. It is plated brass- not the real deal. A couple of wipe downs with a warm soapy rag and the gold was once again glimmering. I then gutted the seat and as it turned out, the foam was still in really good condition. I covered it first in a fabric remnant I had lying around and then stapled on the sheepskin before putting it all back together. 

The result was so satisfying and for relatively little work. I'm loving how it's tying things together in our master.  Now, if I can just keep it from becoming a holding place for sweatshirts and pants and whatever else comes off at the end of the day, it'll be a miracle. 


Monday, February 27, 2012

Poolside Glassware

This mild Southern California winter already has me thinking about lounging the summer away by the pool. I find myself "pinning" poolside images, searching for swimwear and caftans, and of course, the perfect pool-appropriate drink ware for all those citrusy libations we'll be whipping up.

Our big Friday night out had us swinging by our local Target store, where I happened upon a rack full of clearance acrylic-ware. Of course I had to scoop up some in that colorful zig zag pattern. But how fab is the collection featuring blue and black leaves? In my haste (as I slid the whole shelf of chevron into our cart), I'm afraid I barely gave them a thought.  But at $1.49 each, I can easily convince myself that we should have them both. 

I'm also digging those baskets. Is it wrong that all I see is a heap of crispy, salted french fries when I look at those things?


Friday, February 24, 2012

Throwing Up the Sail

Friends, it's here. This one was just one of those weeks where all I could muster was to make it through the work week (even if it was a mere four days)! So I'm going to let the wind fill up my sail today because the weekend has already shaped up to be mighty fine.
I'll see you back here next week, where I'll give you a peek at what I scored during my Desert shopping trip last weekend. It has been transformed and I could not be happier.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blue Velvet

As part of my overall plan to infuse some color into Holtwood House, I've been on a mad hunt for new throw pillows to punch up our charcoal grey sectional. I spotted a pair that would have been perfect while at the Flea this past weekend, but sadly someone else got there first and they went home with another.

Looking for ideas, I hit up Pinterest and one "Pin" was all it took. Why (oh why) was I not brave enough to consider a blue couch?

Let me preface all this by saying- I'm madly in love with our sectional. We call it the "Elvis couch" because its size is so decadent, it reminds us of something Priscilla and Elvis would have sprawled out on in Graceland. It's fab and it's here to stay (I'm told we're probably never buying another couch again). But good golly... couldn't you just dive right into this sea of blue?

This is the one. Right here. Look at that thing! It reminds me a little of our "Elvis Couch" actually, but that aquamarine is the exact shade I'd go for if I could. Shouldn't they be a little happier they are sitting on that masterpiece?

All via Pinterest

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


There's a famous scene at the very end of the 1980's film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' novel Less Than Zero that has always encapsulated the California desert for me.

Jarred by the visually raw and graphic scenes that have come just before it, the audience is seemingly presented with a welcome break in the action and now sees an aerial shot of a vintage red convertible winding it's way back to LA from Palm Springs on a deserted back road, through a field of wind turbines.

With it's filtered, early morning sunlight and the lone image of that shiny red car carrying three lifelong friends home, it's a scene that is at once hopeful as it is foreboding. In it, the desert almost becomes another character, fashioned for sole purpose of driving home the consequences of the story's characters.

The hazy sun seems to signify the smoke clearing. The long and winding road through the battered desert landscape now stands far in the background, while the spinning turbine blades continue to imply danger. And then, sheer solitude settles in, as the audience learns more and the camera pans around the car and back out into the horizon.

I consider it one of my favorite places in the world, but California's low desert has always been a bit spooky and melancholy to me. As we often drive the Coachella Valley into Palm Springs, I find myself growing quiet, almost solemn as I stare out the car window and into its vastness. That movie scene probably has something to do with it.

This past weekend, The Mister and I awoke to sunny blue skies and borrowed his mom's convertible for a little road trip out to Palm Springs. On our way back home, we took a detour out to Desert Hot Springs so I could stop in and peruse the vintage finds at a little gem of a store called Gypsyland (I scored by the way!). The Mister lives by GPS and somehow our shortcut back to the freeway put us out onto an isolated stretch of backroad we've never seen, nor heard of. And how fortuitous. It's called Dillon Road.

Weary from our day of deal hunting, I was finally seceding to my heavy eyelids.

"Open your eyes and look up, " he said with a nudge.

I threw my head back to find us traveling beneath those wind turbines we'd until now, just viewed from a distance, their blades cutting purposefully through that hazy desert sunlight.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing and jumped out to snap some shots. The sheer magnitude of each tower was exhilarating.  I jumped around laughing and yelling out into the desert as he watched smiling from behind the wheel. I nearly didn't want to get back in the car it felt so good.

It's amazing how getting up close and personal can bring new meaning to something you've only viewed from a distance.

Suddenly, it all no longer seems so scary.

* All images taken by Holtwood Hipster

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I love when I surprise myself. Looking through my recent pins on Pinterest and it's clear to me that I am gravitating towards lots of pink, orange, purple and gold. I think it's starting to seep into my everyday life too. I'm starting to notice a similar color palette taking shape in my home office.

Speaking of home office, there is lots of work to be done this week- including a return to regular posting following a rather light schedule last week. Look for more posts on color (it seems all the rage as we're on the cusp of Springtime in the northern hemisphere) and some out-takes from a road trip adventure snapped over the weekend.

Via 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Truly, Madly, Deeply

I've got a crush. It's an infatuation really. One I didn't see coming. One I fought for several years while everyone swore up and down that I would fall hard. And I did. Mad Men has won me heart and soul. The Mister and I have spent whole blocks of work week evenings playing catch up on the first four seasons with Netflix before the show's 5th season airs in March. I can't tell you how much I look forward to curling up on the couch to get my little mid-century fix. The clothes. The design. The drama. And the Mad Man himself, Don Draper.

The March issue of Esquire features a very smartly written interview on Jon Hamm, filled to the brim with hyperbole a' la Dos Equis' "The Most Interesting Man in the World". Take 15 minutes and read it. Or at least spend that 15 minutes staring at the dreamy photos taken by Yu Tsai.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thoughts on Valentines Day {and A Story}

I know we're on the backside of the big Valentine's Day extravaganza now and everyone is pretty much pink and red and heart'ed out. But I've been chewing on some thoughts around this most controversial of holidays and I wanted to throw my two cents onto the table before the champagne bubbles have finally fizzled out. 

I'm going to put it right out there. I love this holiday. I love the corny, the dress-up, the chocolate and the anticipation in exchanging gifts. 

But there was a time when I didn't. 

I blame it on my first Valentine's memory traced all the way back to the 1st grade. I remember anxiously picking out my box of Valentine cards at the local drugstore and going home to sign my name to each one before passing them out at school the next day. I also remember putting aside one I thought looked a little special to hand specifically to a little boy I had a crush on since being seated next to him on the first day of school that September. His name was Jonathan and he was one half of a set of twins in my class that year. It rained that day. I can recall sitting all day waiting to hand out my box of cards in the last half hour of class. Then, when it finally came time to pass them out, I did to everyone in class except Jonathan. See, I wanted to make sure he knew his was special so I saved it until the bell had rung and we were on our way out the door. And just as we pulled our book packs onto our backs to start the walk home, I handed it to him. I can't remember what he said to me when he opened it, but I remember the hot rush of blood to my face as he angrily tossed the open card onto the ground in front of my classmates and let me know it wasn't something he wanted from me. I remember the long walk home that day under my umbrella and can still feel the stomach twisting anxiety I had about having to return and sit at my desk beside him the next day. 

I think I carried that first lesson in rejection with me into the many school time Valentine's Days that followed. I dreaded that box of Valentine's to sign and pass out every year, if only because it reminded me of that embarrassment. But somewhere along the way, I got caught back up in the candy hearts with little messages and flowers along with everyone else. Maybe it's hope or just plain ol' human resilience. I can't say that there hasn't been another situation or two reminiscent of that 1st Valentine's Day, but over time, I've grown quite fond of the Lover's Holiday and come to look at it from another perspective. 

It can be polarizing depending on what side of the relationship fence you sit on and the commercialized aspect of it can be not only hard on the pocket book, but heavy with expectations and sometimes disappointment. 

That all aside, as I wade through my day of crazy along with everyone else on the planet, I welcome any occasion that gives people cause and pause to tell each other how they feel about one another. The cynic will argue that people should say the things we say on Valentine's Day every day. I wholeheartedly agree. Call it stubbornness or laziness or plain old forgetfulness, but life often gets in the way and people don't always do that. If it takes a special day on the calendar to make people reflect a little then what's so bad about that?

I spent some time yesterday reaching out to those I love to wish them a happy Valentine's Day and let them know how much I care about them. Among them, I spoke to my little niece and got a full run down of her first Valentine's Day at school. We talked about what she wore and all the candy and towards the end of our conversation she let me know that she was disappointed because "Anthony didn't give me a Valentine." She too has a crush on the little boy she sits next to. My heart sank a little bit. 

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